SDCWA to consider conservation and outreach programs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDCWA to consider conservation and outreach programs

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This May 1, 2014, file photo shows irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, Calif. This May 1, 2014, file photo shows irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, Calif.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - As a rainstorm bears down on Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss a series of drought-related issues.

The water authority board plans to consider a series of actions in response to a recent conservation order by state water officials and a planned cutback in deliveries by the Metropolitan Water District.

The proposals include limiting the irrigation of ornamental landscapes with potable water to no more than two days a week across the region, and increasing spending on conservation and outreach programs by $1 million.

The SDCWA receives water from the MWD and Colorado River, and also stores water in local reservoirs. The water is then passed down to cities and water districts for distribution to homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is forecasting a 90 percent chance of rain Thursday night and Friday in San Diego County. If the storm does make it this far south, it will bring the second significant rainfall in a week, following an otherwise dry and warm start to 2015.

The Water Authority said the storm will give people a chance to shut off their automated sprinklers and avoid irrigating their plants.

"Back-to-back storms this close to summer are a huge boon for the region because they allow us to turn off sprinklers and let Mother Nature do the watering for a week or more," said Mark Weston, chairman of the SDCWA Board of Directors.

"As we move into summer and adjust our watering practices to meet the state's new water-use mandates, we must seize every opportunity to save water, and shutting down irrigation systems before, during and after storms is an easy way to start," Weston said.

By state law, it's illegal to irrigate landscapes during measurable rainfall and for 48 hours afterward, but as a practical matter, sprinkler systems can be left off for much longer after a significant rain event, according to the SDCWA.

Outdoor watering accounts for more than half of a typical household's water use in the state.

State conservation mandates issued last week called for local agencies to reduce deliveries by 12 percent to 36 percent below their 2013 levels, beginning next month.

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